Ruppersberger, headed family meat business

J. D.

October 08, 1994|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

John D. Ruppersberger Jr., retired president of a 126-year-old, family-owned wholesale meatpacking company in Baltimore, died Wednesday of a heart attack at his Rodgers Forge home. He was 70.

He retired in 1992 from George G. Ruppersberger & Sons Inc., where he began his career as a youth sweeping floors, working in the refrigerators and, later, as a meat cutter. He eventually moved into the sales department.

"He had the ability to get along with people and was extremely ethical. He was always anxious to give the customer what he wanted," said William L. Ruppersberger, his brother, who also lives in Rodgers Forge and operates the business.

The abattoir in the 2600 block of Pennsylvania Ave. was founded in 1868 by Gustav Henry Ruppersberger, who emigrated to Baltimore from Germany. Now managed by the fifth generation of the family, the last operating slaughterhouse in the city supplies meat to grocery stores, restaurants, clubs and hotels.

Hyman Shapiro, who was schechter, or kosher butcher, said, "I worked for them for 40 years, until I retired in 1992, and I can say that in the business it was known as the Cadillac of the meat industry.

"Jack got his feeling for the business from his father, who was known as 'Honest John.' When he promised something, it made no difference whether it was snowing and the traffic was stopped or what, he delivered. That kind of service rubbed off on his two sons."

John Ruppersberger Jr. "was a gentleman par excellence, in the plant and out," Mr. Shapiro said. "He was a man of his word. For me, it was more than a friendship; they made me feel like I was a member of the family."

Born and reared in Larchmont, near Woodlawn, Mr. Ruppersberger was a 1941 graduate of Catonsville High School.

He began his college studies at the University of Maryland before being drafted into the Army in 1942. An infantry sergeant, he served in Germany and in the occupation of Japan. He was discharged in 1945.

He then returned to College Park, where he earned his bachelor's degree and was president of Phi Delta Theta. He was named an All-American lacrosse defenseman in 1948. He played lacrosse for Mount Washington and enjoyed sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, but what he most enjoyed doing was working in the "meat house," family members said.

A member of Sharon Lodge No.182, he was active in the affairs of Ascension Evangelical Lutheran Church, where he sang in the choir.

Services were to be held at 10 a.m. today at the church, 7601 York Road in Towson. Interment will be in Druid Ridge Cemetery.

In addition to his brother, survivors include his wife of 40 years, the former Ozella Fields; four daughters, Timmy Ruppersberger of Baltimore, Kimberly Mark and Rory Lewis, both of Rodgers Forge, and Stacy Walsh of Pinehurst; a sister, Marjorie R. Wharton of Catonsville; and 10 grandchildren.

A5 Memorial contributions may be made to the church.

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